Why Do I AgVocate- Krista Stauffer

What is your role in agriculture?

My husband and I have a first generation dairy farm in Washington State. We started in 2009 and celebrate another year doing what we love every June. We have three kids and milk on average 140 cows. I serve on several local boards including our county farm bureau and FSA committee. I am a CommonGround volunteer and board member for the AgChat Foundation.

What was your inspiration for becoming an agvocate?

Prior to meeting my husband, I really had no knowledge of dairy farming. I learned so much so fast when we were dating and quickly realized I had a lot of misconceptions. I started sharing our story when I realized that my own family had misconceptions about what we do and that I needed to speak up. It actually started with a really nasty comment that was made about what someone “thought” we did on our farm. It made me angry and it hurt at the same time. How could someone that knew me since I was born say such a thing. Don’t they know to ask me? Well, no… they didn’t. I was “too busy” farming to engage with people about what we did. I really was, but I now know that you can’t be too busy to advocate. It needs to be part of your daily routine.

What is your favorite part about being an agvocate?

Honestly, all the amazing opportunities that have come to share our farm on a much larger platform. I have traveled all over the country the past two years working with organizations, food bloggers, presenting to other farmers/ranchers, etc. I love when farmers tell me that I inspired them to speak up or when a consumer says a simple “thank-you” for answering their questions. BUT my favorite moments are when a vegetarian or vegan says “thank-you” for caring for my cows so well even if they do not agree with using them as food. That is something to be proud of.

What is the most challenging part of being an agvocate?

This may come to a surprise or maybe it wont but the most challenging part is other farmers/agvocates. I have met some of the most amazing farmers/ranchers from all over the world. I have made such awesome friends in the AG community because of agvocating. With that said, some of my biggest critics are other farmers and agvocates. There is always someone to point out how you are doing something wrong. Maybe it is a farming practice or how you tell you story. It’s sad really. As farmers/ranchers, we are out numbered. The voices speaking out against us are loud, well organized and we are simply outnumbered. Just as no two farms are the same, you will not find two advocates that share their story the same way. To be honest, we should expect people too. We need everyone telling their OWN story and staying true to who they are.

What advice for other farmers/ranchers who would like to become more involved in agvocacy?

Just do it. You don’t have to start a Facebook page or Twitter to agvocate. Write a letter to your local paper about your farm, join the local chamber of commerce to interact with other business owners in your community, sponsor a youth sports team, invite the school to your farm, ask the school if you can speak to the kids, etc. Clean up the front of your farm, make a new farm sign, make custom swag for your farm to wear around the community, etc. There are so many simple things that can shine a positive light on your farm and help start the conversation for you. Whatever you do, just do something. We need all the positive voices we can get.

What is your biggest takeaway or  memory from an AgChat event or Twitter chat?

The first conference I attended, it was so nice to just sit down & talk to other farmers that understand the need to speak up. It was like, “I have found my people”. Haha

What does the AgChat Foundation mean to you?

The AgChat Foundation is incredibly important for the world of agriculture. It helps unite agriculture and provide the tools farmers need to amplify their story. I am very excited to be on the board and using what I have learned to help other farmers & ranchers.

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Krista Stauffer 1Krista is a wife, mother of three & first generation dairy farmer. Together with her husband, they milk 140 cows in Washington State. She blogs at thefarmerswifee.com and shares her farm on multiple social media platforms.

Follow her on: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & Pinterest.

 

 

 

 

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I was thirty-two years old before I ever tasted a papaya.  Growing up in the 80’s in a small California town, the exotic things didn’t show up in our grocery stores.  I think the most unusual fruit I had growing up was kiwi, mostly because my pharmacist father would sometimes get paid in produce.  I loved those boxes of fruit, a lot more than the time he was paid with a bear roast.

Living in Iowa in the 90‘s didn’t exactly bring about more selection in the produce department, and even if it did, I wouldn’t have had the knowledge of how to select a papaya.  Do I buy them green?  Are those spots OK?  Should they be hard or soft?

Photo credit/Emma Stoltzfus

Photo credit/Emma Stoltzfus

It wasn’t until I moved to Hawaii almost a decade ago that I had my first taste of this delightful fruit.  One bite and I was hooked.  There’s nothing better for breakfast than a fresh slice of papaya sprinkled with a little lime juice, unless it’s half a papaya filled with yogurt, blueberries, and granola.  Either option is delicious.

While I was living my papaya oblivious existence in the middle of the Midwest, back in Hawaii a crises was occurring on Hawaiian papaya farms.  The ringspot virus was taking over farms on the Big Island, causing damage and death to both the plants and the fruit.  While farms were being devastated, Dennis Gonsalves was spending his time looking for a solution.  It didn’t take him long to develop a genetically modified plant that was resistant to the ringspot virus, and by 1999, the seeds were given, free of charge, to Hawaii papaya growers.  Today, about 77% of the Hawaiian papaya crop is genetically modified, and those farmers, once on the brink of closing their doors, are still in business.

In our house, we go out of our way to purchase the Rainbow papaya developed by Dr. Gonsalves.  They are, in my opinion, the tastiest papayas on earth.

June is National Papaya month, so if you haven’t already, try this tasty treat. Look for fruit of yellow/orange color, not too soft and not too hard, with a slight sweet smell.  A little green is not a problem, but an all green papaya isn’t ripe and may not ripen completely.  Slice it up, and save the skin for the compost pile.  When you go to scoop out the seeds, don’t throw them out!  Those seeds will make the base for a tasty salad dressing.  Aloha!

Rhonda grew up in Northern California, graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Horticulture, and was lucky enough to marry a farm boy. She established a fruit farm in SE Iowa before following her farmer, David, to Hawaii where he grows seed corn. Her life in Maui currently revolves around 3 teenage children and all things agriculture. The Stoltzfuses were recently honored as the Hawaii Farm Bureau Family of the Year.

Why Do I AgVocate? — Joelle Hess and Leslee Mattinson

What is your role in agriculture?

We are 3rd and 4th generation dairy farmer’s wife and daughter. All of our family, farming or not, live on the dairy. As kids we grew up working alongside our dad and grandpa, milking, irrigating, feeding calves, and hauling hay. It taught us hard work, dedication, and strong family values. We work hard, we play hard and when a job needs to be done we can always count on each other. On our farm in Utah, we milk 275 Holstein cows. Our crops consist of corn for silage, barley, alfalfa, and wheat. All of our crops are flood irrigated.

What was your inspiration for becoming an advocate?

There is a lot of misinformation about how farmers are producing food. If we the farmers don’t tell our story, someone else is going to. We want people to know that farmers are REAL people, with REAL families, working hard to produce quality products because we truly care. We find most people are intrigued when they hear that we are farmers, they have a lot of questions and are eager to hear our story, and have their questions answered.

What is your favorite part about being an advocate?

Our favorite part about being an agvocate is meeting new people and sharing our family’s rich history in farming. It’s always eye opening to talk to the consumer and find out what their knowledge is of our industry. It has also been fun to meet some of the farmers out there that are at the top of their game in agvocating, their passion has inspired us to become advocates.

What is the most challenging part of being an advocate?

The hardest part is knowing that you are not going to able to reach everyone. There will always be people who are misinformed and will refuse to hear or understand your side of the story no matter the facts and research you have. We feel it is important to be respectful of other people’s ideas even if we don’t agree with them. We always strive to walk away from a discussion with our farmers dignity intact. Also trying to keep up on all the information that is available to share.

What advice for other farmer/ranchers who would like to become more involved in advocacy?

Just jump in and start somewhere, pick a platform and go with it. Don’t think that your one voice doesn’t matter, it does, your story needs to be told!

What is your biggest takeaway or memory from an AgChat event or Twitter chat?

All the great people that we met. It was great to be in one place with people that understand this crazy life of farming that we live.

What does the AgChat Foundation mean to you?

The AgChat Foundation to us is an awesome group of people working together to help farmers put their thoughts into words. They train, teach, and keep farmers up to date on the best way to agvocate.

 

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Joelle Hess and Leslee Mattinson are mother and daughter living the dream life on their 4th generation dairy farm in northerDSC_0585 (2)[1]n Utah. Joelle grew up in the city and married a farm boy and quickly learned to love the country life. She has served as her county Dairy Women’s president and spent many years with the Dairy Ambassador program. Her and her husband have raised 6 children and taught them the value of hard work. Her three oldest children are married and live on the family farm with their families. She is still busy chasing three boys at home. Leslee grew up from an infant riding in the tractor all day with her dad. She would take her dolls, blanket, and pillow and set up “house” in the tractor cab. She milked cows, irrigated and missed school to go to the weekly auction. She raised show cows for the county fair and was involved in 4-H and FFA. She is married and has 2 daughters and is the 3rd generation to live in the original 112 year old farm house, which she dearly loves. She now spends her time as the farms right hand errand girl and helping out wherever she can. In their spare time they are passionate about educating future generations about how their food is grown and letting people have a glimpse into the fun, chaotic, and always busy life of one big crazy farm family! Follow along with them on their blog, Instagram, and Facebook and join their adventure!

 

AgChat Foundation Announces Greg Peterson as Keynote for 2016 Cultivate & Connect Conference

The AgChat Foundation is excited to announce Greg Peterson of The Peterson Farm Brothers as keynote speaker of for the 2016 Cultivate & Connect Conference this December in Kansas City.Greg Peterson Headshot2

Greg Peterson is a 2013 graduate of Kansas State University where he majored in Agricultural Communications and Journalism. He grew up and still works on a family farm near Assaria, KS with his parents, 2 brothers, and sister. In June of 2012, Greg and his brothers released a video on YouTube entitled, “I’m Farming and I Grow It” that received over 9 million views. Since then Greg and his brothers have continued to produce videos and are now up to 37 million total views on YouTube. The videos have given Greg and his brothers many opportunities around the country and the world to talk about agriculture and he is passionate about the future of the industry.

“I’m looking forward to returning to the AgChat conference this December. It’s always a great experience to connect and re-connect with people involved in agriculture advocacy. The AgChat conference brings to life the online involvement of so many people.”
We are very excited to have Greg present. Make sure to join our Facebook event for the conference to keep up with who’s attending, new details & more!

How Conservation Tillage Helps the Environment

It seems like every day there’s a new claim out saying farmers hurt the environment.

We know that’s not true. Farmers, of all stripes, use a variety of tools to guarantee they’re farming with as sustainably as possible.

Some farming practices, like conservation tillage, have even improved the environment.

corn field“In 1970s, there was a revolution in agriculture. A real conversion from conventional intensive systems to a system that was more in tune with nature — conservation tillage,” Richard Fawcett, a retired Iowa state agronomy professor said.

Thanks to herbicides, like atrazine and glyphosate, farmers don’t have to disturb the soil with tillage or plowing.

No-till has a number of environmental benefits:

  • Less soil erosion: Conservation tillage dramatically reduces erosion and soil runoff. According to the Conservation Technology Information Center at Perdue University, “Depending on the amount of residues present, soil erosion can be reduced by up to 90% compared to an unprotected, intensively tilled field.”
  • Cleaner water: The EPA says erosion and soil run off is the most significant pollutant of American waterways, so by reducing it we also improve our water quality.No till corn farming saves 150 million tons of topsoil every year – the equivalent of 5 million worth of dump trucks filled with soil. That’s soil that is now staying on the farm instead of running off into water.
  • Healthier soil: When soil is tilled, carbon is released into the atmosphere. No-till agriculture keeps that soil in the ground. As farmer Brian Scott explains, ”Tillage disrupts the natural structure of soil and releases some of the carbon soil organisms thrive on.  Soil biology plays an important role in providing crops with the water and nutrients they need.”
  • Less air pollution: When farmers don’t have to plow, they use less fuel. Conservation tillage saves an average of 3.5 gallons of fuel/per acre.
  • More wildlife: Conservation tillage, enabled by herbicides, helps to make great habitats for birds, aquatic creatures and small animals.Soil runoff in water harms aquatic habitats by undermining food chains. The lack of sunlight makes it hard for plants and algae to grow, denying fish a source of food.No-till land is also great for birds and small mammals that can make homes there.“There’s been an explosion in wildlife. With conservation tillage, with no-till we actually use our land for a dual purpose. We can efficiently provide food and fuel and fiber and also provide wildlife habitat,” Fawcett said.

With all the great benefits of no-till it’s good to know the practice is growing. In the U.S., no-till farming is now increasing about 1.5% each year. In 2009, more than a 1/3 of farms in the U.S. had some no-till fields.

So next time someone asks about herbicides or environmental affect of farming, you can talk about conservation tilling: a farming practice that’s improving the environment.

 

Elizabeth Held is a director at the White House Writers Group, where she advises food and agriculture clients. 

AgChat Foundation Announces 2016 Summer Interns

The AgChat Foundation is pleased to announce the addition of Mallorie Wipple and Kyndal Reitzenstein, as the 2016 summer communications interns. Ms. Wipple’s primary responsibility is coordinating communications effort the Foundation while Ms. Reitzenstein will focus on communications from the Ask the Farmers initiative.

“As our organization grows at a rapid pace, adding a second internship to the summer 2016 AgChat Foundation Summer Communications Intern Mallorie Wipple - AgChat.orgprogram was imperative. Ms. Wipple and Ms. Reitzenstein bring impressive credentials to the table,” said Jenny Schweigert, executive director of the AgChat Foundation. “We are thrilled to expand our support of our industry’s young leaders and assist in rounding their skill sets.”

Wippel is a senior at The Ohio State University majoring in Agricultural Communications. Growing up on a swine and grain farm in central Ohio has instilled in her a love for the industry. In her free time she enjoys creating branding content for beginning businesses so they can share their agriculture story with others.

“I am excited to serve as the Communications Intern for the AgChat Foundation,” said Wipple, “This experience will further my goals to advocate for the agriculture industry as I hone my social media skills and communications expertise.”

A native of Colorado and Oklahoma State University student, Ms. Reitzenstein brings the community her experience as a photographer and graphic curator. She grew up on a cattle 2016 ACF Ask the Farmers Communications Intern - Kyndal Reitzenstein - AgChat.orgoperation raising primarily Angus cattle while also showing both cattle and pigs nationwide. Reitzenstein has been a member of the National Champion Meat Animal Evaluation Team and the Reserve National Champion Livestock Judging Team. She has also served on multiple communications teams for national magazines.

“I hold the agricultural industry near and dear to my heart,” said Reitzenstein, “I am beyond excited to work with the Ask the Farmers team to expand my knowledge about social media and advocating for agriculture.”

The AgChat Foundation is a 501c3 organization which exists to empower farmers, ranchers, agribusiness professionals and agricultural enthusiasts with the tools needed to tell their stories. The Foundation will begin offering a fall internship program in September 2016.

 

Why Do I AgVocate? – Terryn Drieling

What is your role in agriculture?

Raising beef. It has been part of my life for my whole life. The feedyard where I grew up is also where my dad grew up and where my folks still live today. I love all aspects of raising beef, but the feedyard is my first love. So, moving to the ranch and making the switch to caring for cow-calf pairs was a pretty big adjustment for me – one that I am so glad I made.

What was your inspiration for becoming an agvocate?

Frankly, my inspiration to become an agvocate stemmed from the desire to do better. And I felt that my background, growing up and working in the feedyard setting and now working on the cow-calf level, gave me a unique perspective that would help me help consumers. I wanted to do a better job of letting our consumers know about the beef we provide. I wanted to tell them about all of the really great things those of us in agriculture do every day to bring food to their tables. And I wanted to afford them the transparency I like to see in industries I am not involved in – help them understand “the why,” if you will.

What is your favorite part about being an agvocate?

By far my favorite part of agvocating is making connections. I recently joined a Facebook group consisting of other “mommy bloggers” from all walks. The group has opened up conversations and fostered friendships built on trust and based in common ground. A couple of friends that I have made in that group have eluded to the fact that they love to live vicariously through my photos, but now understand that raising beef is no walk in the park. Comments and connections like that really make my day!

What is the most challenging part of being an agvocate?

Honestly, I struggle with time management. With being a mom and working on the ranch, it is often hard for me to find all of the time that I would like to devote to agvocating. I sometimes feel torn because I would like to do more. I have a friend who is always reminding me that I am not a full-time blogger and to not feel guilty about everything I would like to do that I just cannot do.

What advice for other farmers/ranchers who would like to become more involved in agvocacy?

If I could offer one piece of advice it would be to put yourself in the shoes of your consumer – the one who is generations removed from the farm and doesn’t understand agriculture. Talk to them with the same respect you would like if the tables were turned and you were the one who didn’t understand. Motherhood has helped me immensely with this. When I was a new mom, and even sometimes now, there were things I didn’t have a lot of knowledge about. But there were other seasoned moms who offered me a kind word and a helping hand. Whether it is blogging, tweeting, or just conversing – this is what I channel when I am agvocating.

What is your biggest takeaway or memory from an AgChat event or Twitter chat?

I haven’t been to an AgChat event – yet. I hope to be able to attend the upcoming 2016 Cultivate & Connect global conference in December. I have only participated in a handful of Twitter chats (time management – my biggest struggle), but what impressed me the most were the beneficial conversations that were opened up through those chats. And I am not going to lie, I was pretty stoked when a couple of my agvocating role models (Ryan Goodman and Debbie Lyons-Blythe) retweeted one of my blog posts during a Twitter chat on antibiotics.

What does the AgChat Foundation mean to you?

The AgChat Foundation is the agriculture community coming together to do better –better by each other and better by our consumers. It foster team work between the hard working farmers and ranchers raising the food and helps equip them with the tools necessary to start meaningful conversations with the consumers eating the food. And for that, I am thankful.

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Terryn Drieling Terryn grew up on a small feedyard in northeast Nebraska. She went on to earn her Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln and participated in the UNL Feedyard Management Internship. The internship brought her to a large western Nebraska feedyard, where she worked as part of the animal health crew for more than 7 years. Terryn and her husband run a small herd of cows in partnership with her in-laws. But their day job is living and working on a large ranch in the Nebraska Sandhills, raising beef and bringing up their three kids. Terryn writes about their everyday ranch life on her blog Faith Family and Beef.

Make sure to follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest.

Why Do I AgVocate? – Karla Salp

What is your role in agriculture?

Right now I see my role in agriculture as helping create a culture that supports all forms of agriculture. There are two aspects to this: the public and the agriculture industry. I work to help the public understand and embrace modern agriculture. I also strive to help the agriculture industry to see the value in working together and using technology – especially social media and video platforms – to actively engage with the public.

What was your inspiration for becoming an agvocate?

Growing up on a farm naturally tends to make one an agvocate because you have been able to see and experience first-hand the value that agriculture has. Those of us who have left the farm, I think, have a unique opportunity to be agvocates because we have a foot in each world – the farm life and the non-farm life. I was only in college for a few weeks when I met someone who said that until driving from Seattle to Washington State University (through the bread basket of Washington) he thought farms didn’t exist anymore, except as something like civil war reenactments! It was common in my family to bring friends home from school to give them a taste of the farm life. A favorite of ours was letting them try to start a siphon tube. Whenever relatives visited, we always took them on a “farm tour” to see how the crops were doing and to educate them about the natural history of the area. So I guess agvocating was just a part of life as I grew up.

What is your favorite part about being an agvocate?

My favorite part is seeing a farmer’s eyes light up as the share about their passion for agriculture without feeling defensive and seeing their quiet pride come through. When ag folks are authentically passionate without being defensive, I think that is when they can really reach people.

What is the most challenging part of being an agvocate?

The most challenging part of being an agvocate is seeing the division and lack of unity of purpose within the agriculture field itself. In my experience, few recognize the need to promote farmers themselves, not just their commodity. Some people in the ag industry see the need to promote a common message about farmers beyond marketing a product, but too few do. To me this is the greatest weakness and threat to agriculture today.

What advice for other farmer/ranchers who would like to become more involved in agvocacy?

The public needs to see that you are a real person. Be human and real with them. Admit mistakes. Most of all, it can’t be all about you. If you want people to hear your message, you need to understand what motivates them. You need to care about them, too.

What is your biggest takeaway or memory from an AgChat event or Twitter chat?

I attended the AgChat conference in Austin, TX. I was very impressed with how many people from the midwest were actively agvocating. There don’t seem to be nearly as many agvocating – at least using social media – on the West Coast.

What does the AgChat Foundation mean to you?

I am very supportive of the AgChat Foundation’s mission. It is so necessary for those in the ag industry to learn to use social media to virtually leave the farm and bring others to their farm. Our culture is having a huge discussion about where their food comes from and for too long we have been letting others tell our story for us. AgChat gives people the tools to become part of the conversation once again.

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Karla SalpKarla Salp grew up on a farm in George, WA. Although she loved living on a farm, she never imagined that she would be working in the agriculture field one day. After working as a crime victim advocate for a decade, she returned to her agriculture roots when starting to work for a statewide agriculture organization called Washington Friends of Farms & Forests. Part of her role there included educating the public about agriculture through their “Washivore” project. Karla also served for a year as the Executive Director of Washington Grown, a nonprofit dedicated to educating the public about agriculture through a television show and social media engagement. Karla currently works for the Washington State Department of Agriculture as a public outreach specialist.

Make sure to follow Karla on her blog, Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

Custom Facebook Cover Photos

Facebook is a great place to share your farm or ranch. Having a Facebook cover photo is more important than you might think. It gives visitors a glimpse into your farm/ranch. You can of course select one of your favorite photos or you can create a personalized cover photo.

There are two great options in creating custom cover photos, PicMokey.com and Canva.com. My personal favorite is Canva. So head on over to Canva for a quick walk through on how to create a custom Facebook cover for your page.

Canva Screen shot

Above you find the main screen for Canva.

You can create most anything you want using Canva. So click on “Facebook Cover“.

Canva Screen Shot

Now you are on the main page to create a “Facebook Cover”.

The thing I love about Canva is that it shows you where your “Profile Picture” will be. This helps if you want to include words or information about your farm/ranch or blog on your cover photo. To the left you will see options to pick premade layouts, add elements (shapes, lines, etc.), add text, select a premade background or upload one of you farm photos to use as the background image.

You can select a premade layout and simply add in photos of your farm or ranch as seen below.AgChat Cover2You can also choose to use one of your farm photos as the background.

AgChat FB CoverPersonalize it with words, your farm/ranch logo and/or your blog URL.

Note: To upload your farm/ranch logo just select upload. It is the same option you use to upload your photos.

Spend a little time playing around with the many features Canva has to offer to see what type of cover photo works best for you. You can switch them up with the different seasons or if something new is happening on your farm/ranch.

Why Do I AgVocate? – Rae Charlton Wagoner

What is your role in agriculture?

I am living the dream as Director of Communication for the Kentucky Soybean Board and the Kentucky Soybean Association. I am the Kentucky staff lead for CommonGround, and I admin the Facebook pages for both soybean and the Livestock Coalition in our state. I make my living talking and writing about food and farming – how awesome is that?

What was your inspiration for becoming an agvocate?

I have always lived in the country, and I’ve been around farming all of my life. I will never forget my first jobs as a teenager – one year (ONE!) I grew strawberries for sale to our local restaurants and markets, and after that I spent some time pulling plants and riding the tobacco setter. As an adult, I was part of a small-scale cow/calf operation, and learned to really love livestock – especially cows. When I finally settled into the RGDJ, I realized that because I knew a lot of farmers and some members of my family farm, I had just assumed that everyone knew farmers are the good guys (and gals), out there doing the right thing and feeding the world. When I realized that the trust I’ve always had for farmers wasn’t the norm, I knew I needed to do my part to help share what I’ve learned (and what I have always known) with those who may not be so fortunate.

What is your favorite part about being an agvocate?

Sharing my experiences. I have been SO blessed to see a lot of diverse things as a result of my job, that a lot of folks will never see. I’ve been in large-scale hog operations with gestation stalls on one side and open housing on the other, so that I could stand in one place and see sows living under both housing systems at the same time. I’ve also been on farms with hogs who live in pens outside. I’ve been in chicken barns and turkey barns and goat operations and assorted dairy barns and parlors, and of course Kentucky is a big beef-cattle state. All of the animal ag connections are addition to the exciting things I have learned about row-cropping. I can talk about biotech crops, water, nutrient management, sustainability and technology all day.

What is the most challenging part of being an agvocate?

For me, it’s letting people share what they believe, and asking for more information when I already know that they’ve gotten ahold of some incorrect information. I’m thankful for the CommonGround program, and the training we receive through it. I’ve learned that people don’t want to be educated (because that means they were wrong)… they want to make connections and build relationships. Luckily, I’m good at that!

What advice for other farmer/ranchers who would like to become more involved in agvocacy?

I think everyone should tell their story. Your story is uniquely yours, and it’s not all happy spring calves and the first soybean sprouts breaking through the soil on a beautiful sunny day. Sometimes it’s a down cow that doesn’t recover or having to sell your herd or a drought or a fire or a flood. Sometimes it’s a tragic farming accident. That’s still part of the story, and I think telling the WHOLE story helps those outside the ag community realize that those of us who work in ag are people – real people, good people, and people who care deeply about what we do.

What is your biggest takeaway or memory from an AgChat event or Twitter chat?

AgChat 2015 – Cultivate and Connect, in Nashville, was my first AgChat event, and I almost cried. I have found my tribe! I do love working with the women of CommonGround, and all of my ag peeps, but to find a group made up completely of agriculture communicators? Yes, please and thank you.

What does the AgChat Foundation mean to you?

As I said, this is my tribe. These are my people. In addition to the friendships, this is an amazing network of resources.

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Rae Charlton WagonerRae Wagoner is Director of Communication for the Kentucky Soybean Board and the Kentucky Soybean Association, and has found her career to be what she calls the “RGDJ” (redneck girl’s dream job) on her blog. Rae has always lived the rural lifestyle and jokes that she’s only ever dated one guy who didn’t wear the blue corduroy jacket… and THAT was a mistake! She resides in western Kentucky with her husband, Sutton, and her wiener dog, Savannah Jane., and enjoys reading, cowboy boots, wine and photography… not necessarily in that order.

Make sure to follow Rae on her blog, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest.